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Entries in Costume Design (137)

Wednesday
Dec032014

Interview: Toa Fraser and the 'Cool Runnings' of the foreign language race.

Glenn here. If you had ever wondered what a pre-colonial New Zealand western may look like, Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands just may be it. The film's story of revenge taken by a Maori chieftain's son after the slaughter of his tribe and family is very typical fodder for the western genre, but with its use of indigenous languages (a language that itself has been slaughtered throughout history) mixed with local mythology and lore, the film proves an entirely unique proposition. It's only the third foreign language submission in the small island nation's history, and the first to be set before white settlement. I spoke to the director last week, just a few days before his film received the biggest haul of nominations at the New Zealand Film Awards. The Dead Lands received 14 nominations and will face stiff competition from the inspirational chess drama The Dark Horse with 13. We talked about about the festival circuit, Oscar campaigning, being the underdog, historic authenticity, costuming and more.

 You have recently played at Toronto and London film festivals, and now you're a submission for the Oscar, how have these last few months of yours been taking this film around the world.

It's been amazing. We only finished the movie a few weeks before we went to Toronto and I had only seen it once in its entirety before we screened it at Toronto so it was kind of a high stakes game. We had, I think, six cast members come to Toronto and be a part of the experience, so it was a great premiere and we were very happy with the way that it was received. We were very grateful. And then to get back to London for the festival was also great. We had a great big group of Maori come down to the show and stand proudly at the side of the stage without telling us they were coming. They all had a great time. And then back to New Zealand for the premiere there, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I am very proud of the movie and love talking about it. Good times.

Have you by any chance been given any education on campaigning techniques when it comes to the Oscar? Is it a big deal in New Zealand or do you take it stride?

We are the Cool Runnings of the foreign language race [laughs]. You know, I think we're only the third ever from New Zealand…

Yeah, it is, after The Orator (2011) and White Lies (2013).

Yeah, and we're up against some formidable and very established industries that make movies in languages other than English. So, we under no pretense we have… we're the underdog in this game, but in terms of strategy? No. I understand there are very strict rules and so I'm anxious not to suck up. We're from New Zealand, we're very play by the rules types.

More on Peter O'Toole, costumes, and action choreograhy after the jump...

James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare and Toa Fraser on the set of 'The Dead Lands'

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct292014

Threads: "Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe"

Each Wednesday in "Threads" we'll be obsessing over a single costume we're fixated on that week. This one's an apology: how on earth did Snowpiercer get left out of those Halloween Costume Suggestions yesterday?

Tilda Swinton spends the bulk of her screentime in Snowpiercer, now on DVD, in a politican-conservative white top and matching skirt adorned with medals. Well, as white as clothing can be in the sooty environs of this dystopian movie where the earth's only living citizens have lived on a speeding train for decades. But when we first see her she's wearing an burnt orange fur with matching tinted glasses, over a brilliant purple skirt suit and boy does it pop surrounded by the grays, blacks, and dour miserabilism of the train. The costume's purpose? Surely to intimidate with its wealthy grandeur and add to that same miserablism. Or, as costume designer Catherine George put it in an interview with Clothes on Film, her inspiration was

...images of women from the from late 60’s/early 70’s, a certain type that I remembered growing up who would wear their fur to go into town and scoff at people who were less better off, a bit of a Margaret Thatcher type, really. The suit was a typical conservative politician shape and style – the purple has the royal quality and it pops with the colour of the fur.

Minister Mason launches into her instantly classic "Be a shoe" monologue in this ensemble in order to put the low class citizens in their 'back of the train' place.

The costume is glorious but Tilda is crazy enough to be hideously unattractive within it. Despite her fashion icon status and ageless alien beauty, the actress has always been without vanity as a performer and the cinema is all the better for it.  The tables are eventually turned on Mason, a self proclaimed "hat" to inferior "shoes," and she is forced to wear a shoe on her own head.

A shoe is not a hat. Except when Tilda wears it, fully revelling in its absurdity.

New group fantasy for the weekend: What if everyone on earth dressed up as their favorite Tilda character this weekend? All  these unforgivingly cruel and icy dystopias that are so in vogue would melt away leaving a Swintonian Utopia in their place.

Snowpiercer is now available on Netflix Instant Watch 
Related: this year's Oscar race for costume design 
Previously on "Threads": Outlander 

Tuesday
Oct282014

Top Ten: 2014 Movie Characters For Halloween Costumes

Halloween hits on Friday. Are you prepared to see Elsa & Annas & Olafs everywhere you look for our first post-Frozen dress-up holiday? That billion dollar 2013 smash will surely dominate. As for 2014 movies it goes without saying that you'll see a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy  and sometimes full teams. Team costumes on Halloween are the best but the key to their worth will be in how they handle adorable memorable Groot. Groot costumes will range everywhere from the godawful to the 'how'd they do it' spectacular, depending on creativity and budget.

Here are the characters / movies that would be the neatest tricks to pull off that would make the biggest treats for The Film Experience if fully sewn or creatively cobbled together by overachievers.

(Say no to store bought costumes!)

TEN 2014 COSTUMES WE HOPE TO SEE ON HALLOWEEN

10 "Full Metal Bitch" 
The great takeaway of Edge of Tomorrow or Live. Die. Repeat. or All You Need is Kill or whatever they're calling it today is that Emily Blunt is a badass. Rita, the feared warrior within, practically begs for a life outside of that movie since she is so iconized within it. Good luck pulling off all the metal armor and weaponized accessorizies. And how to look exactly like Emily Blunt while doing it and not "Random Robot Girl"... that's your challenge.
How to win Halloween in this costume: Get a male sidekick in a similar outfit who is shorter than you. Or drag along weird alien carcasses behind you.

"The Shailene Woodley and eight more costumed curveballs after the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct232014

Things Johnny Depp's 'Into the Woods' Costume Makes Him Look Like

Margaret here, examining the first image released of Johnny Depp as The Wolf in Into the Woods.

Take it in. There is a lot going on here. Allow me to guide you through it via the magic of list-making.

THINGS THIS COSTUME MAKES JOHNNY DEPP LOOK LIKE, FROM GREATEST RESEMBLANCE TO LEAST

1. A first-round cut from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy auditions
2. Zsa Zsa Gabor's mustachioed coat rack
3. The illegitimate lovechild of Carmen Sandiego and Templeton the Rat
4. A pile of 1970s car seat covers in dire need of a shampoo
5. The Mask when he watches Cameron Diaz sing for the first time 
6. The "after" in a poorly executed "Smokey Eye" makeup tutorial
7. Johnny Depp on a regular Thursday
8. Fanciest presenter at the WerePimp convention
9. A Zoobilee Zoo
10. A Halloween costume assembled from whatever was left at Party City at 8pm, Oct. 31
11. Villain of Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit live-action reboot
12. Zorro making a surprise cameo in the "What Does the Fox Say?" video
13. A magically animated bearskin rug
14. Cruella de Ville's less fashionable younger brother
15. A Very Manly Muppet or a Muppet of a Man
16. The pirating industry's most sought-after stylist
17. Fantastic Mr. Fox cosplayer
19. A molding vintage print ad for mustache wax
18. Huggy Bear
20. [Insert name of any widely ridiculed celebrity offspring here]
21. What Johnny Depp is supposed to look like when he finally works with someone other than Tim Burton
...
...
...
...
100. a wolf

Any suggestions for additions to the list?

Wednesday
Oct222014

Sandy Powell's Glorious Bluntness "I won for the wrong film!"

We've revelled in Sandy Powell's uncensored quotes before - like her dismissive "I already have two of these" speech for Young Victoria.

She's at it again providing us with more choice Oscar quotes and I couldn't resist talking about this tonight since the blog had an unofficial Costume Design day today what with the Exodus video, and the debut of "Threads". 

See, recently at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Chicago, in a series related to David Bowie's legacy and his influence on the arts, the auteur Todd Haynes and his sometime collaborator Sandy Powell were invited to speak about their glam rock classic Velvet Goldmine (1998). You can listen to the complete talk here though be advised that the introductions take an incredible 14 minutes to get through. Longwinded much? 

One of the best bits a little before an hour in is when Sandy is asked about being an Oscar favorite, a very mainstream establishment thing, despite the fact that she came up into fame working with very anti-establishment artists like Derek Jarman. Because she is Sandy Powell and can't help herself and we love her for it, she doesn't leave it at "I'm happy to have Oscars"...

Sandy: I'm happy to receive the Oscars for the work I did because I work really hard...so for that reason I'm not going to say I'm not grateful. BUT. I would have loved to have gotten it for some of the other films instead. The year I won for "Shakespeare in Love," I was also nominated for "Velvet Goldmine". I had two nominations in one year and I won it for the wrong one. I think I did manage in my speech to thank Todd.

Todd: She managed to get up there and receive the Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love" without mentioning "Shakespeare in Love" and only mentioning "Velvet Goldmine".

They laugh and this leads to fun memories of the director and costumer going to the Oscars together. 

Haynes & Powell's next collaboration is the forthcoming Carol (2015) starring Cate Blanchett and they hint that it will arrive in the Spring though that seems unlikely to me. Given the pedigree we're assuming a Cannes premiere and then a fall bow in theaters, don't you think?

P.S. There's a little wonderful bonus for long time TFE fans in this podcast, too. Our friend and podcast mate Nick Davis is given the microphone at about the 34 minute mark and his ode to Todd & Sandy's collaboration is a thing of fan ardor beauty and he asks a great question too than one presumes Sandy has never been asked about Velvet Goldmine.

(Thanks to faithful reader Murtada for the heads up on this wonderful online find)

 

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